My Love Affair with Reading

I don’t remember learning to read.  I mean, I know I did it, but I can’t recall the process.  I remember watching my daughter learning to read, struggling over every word, sounding them out, with varying degrees of success.

But I don’t remember doing it myself.  The earliest memory I have of reading is when I was about 8 years old, when I could already read quite well (for an 8 year old).  Before that – nothing.

Well, I guess I must have learnt to read somehow. 

The early days

When I was 8 years old, I was in grade 3 (in Australia).  I remember sometimes we had to go up to the teacher’s desk, one by one, and read some paragraphs of our reading book to her while the other kids did some activities quietly at their own desks.

I was always so proud at this time, because I knew I was a good reader and it made the teacher happy.

Also around that time we had a big assembly at school, when all the parents came, and each class puts on some kind of performance.  It must have been at the end of the school year.

Our teacher chose me to read a story from a book, while my classmates acted out the story behind me.  I read the book into a microphone.  I don’t remember being afraid, even though the audience was large.  The only thing I remember is how much pleasure I got from reading.

reading

As I got older I discovered the school library, as well as the public library.  I was always borrowing books from both sources.  I read them so quickly that I took them back to get more way before the due date.

Libraries were wonderful, and for a while my dream was to be a librarian.  When I was about 9 years old, I put little pockets in the front of some of my books, with little slips of paper in, like they had in the library (only my older readers will understand what I mean, I’m sure technology has changed since then!).  I didn’t have a date stamp, but I’m sure I wrote some dates on the paper, as if they had previously been ‘borrowed’ by someone. 

They even had pretend dewey decimal system numbers. I stuck the book ‘number’ on the spine of the book, just like in real libraries. It’s pretty clear that even at such a young age I was already a nerd.

An obsession

Reading was kind of an obsession with me.  As a child I read everything I could get my hands on.  I read the newspaper (except sports and finance), I read my mother’s women’s magazines, I even read the phone book!  My family laughed at me one night as I lay on my stomach on the living room floor, the rest of them watching something on tv, me with the ‘Yellow Pages’ open in front of me, devouring everything I could find.

If you never looked, let me tell you, there was a lot of interesting information in the ‘Yellow Pages’!

Another book I was known to read was the dictionary.  Yes, the dictionary.  I loved this book!  I learnt so much, so many new words, by reading the dictionary.  Page after page of words and meanings.  And, as a young girl, many of these words and meanings were new to me, so reading the dictionary meant that I was learning a lot of new things all at once!  It wasn’t surprising then, that at the age of 12 or 13, I was the champion speller in our English class! 

It wasn’t difficult for relatives to pick out a birthday or Christmas present for me – a book!  Often my older sister also got a book at Christmas, but I don’t remember seeing her sitting around reading as often as I did.  She had other interests.

Like the time my brothers and sisters (we had a blended step-family, which meant some weekends we had a lot of kids at home) started a fire on our farm, which got quickly out of control, because it was dried grass.  My step-father had to go and do some fancy fire-fighting to prevent a disaster, and my siblings were in big trouble.

And me?  In the bedroom with my nose in a book.  I remember my step-father sticking his head around the door frame and saying, “Why aren’t you outside burning the farm down with the others?”

I didn’t reply, and I still don’t know if it was his sense of humour and supposed to be funny, but I kind of felt like a loser right then.  It was like I was missing out on life by sitting in my room, reading all day long.

But I couldn’t help it, I loved reading.

The library

My interest in books continued, although as my life changed, and I grew up, I didn’t always make time to read.  I was always a member of the local library, though, and whenever I had time I would use it.  And not only for reading novels, but for learning things.

We use the internet for knowledge these days, but back then, the library was a goldmine for information.

I got out books on all different subjects – cooking, gardening, macramé (yes!), different countries, ancient Egypt (I was very interested in this for a while), photography, and the list goes on and on.

But, of course, I also got out novels.  Lots of them. 

I’m the kind of person who judges a book by its cover, literally.  I remember pulling each book off the shelf, and if the cover didn’t please me, back it went, without even being turned over for the summary on the back cover.  No mercy for the writer, if he or she didn’t choose a good design for the cover, they were left on the shelf, literally!

My reading choices

What kind of books did I like reading?  Well, just like most things in life, there’s been different stages where I’ve enjoyed reading different kinds of books.

In my teenage years I liked reading Agatha Christie, and other detective stories.  I’ve always liked reading about people’s lives.  Just stories about families and what they do and how they interact.

After Agatha Christie it was all about humour – Monty Python and other comedians.  I found them incredibly funny at the time.  Not so much now.

I went through a stage of reading self-help books (even though I don’t think I really needed help).  They were interesting at the time, but it’s more what you’d call pop-psychology.  ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ ring a bell with any of you?  I was in my early 20s when I read that, and I thought it would save me from another dysfunctional relationship – how wrong I was!  I had to let life teach me those lessons.

Then, after that I spent a few years reading kind of books you’ll find in ‘Oprah’s book club’.  I enjoyed them during that period of my life, but they’re too emotional for me now.  A little bit too ‘heavy’ for me. 

Then it was books on astrology and all things surrounding that.  Sun charts, and moon charts and other stuff that I can’t remember anything about. 

That’s just a small sample of the kind of things I’ve read over the years.  I can’t even remember most of what I read.  But along with all of them were novels, modern and classics, sometimes detective stories, sometimes chick-lit   and God knows what else I’ve read over the years.

What I read now

And, what do I read now?  Living in Moscow it’s not so easy to find books in English which I’m interested in.  It’s easier for me to pick up some books when I travel to another country, and there I usually buy them from charity shops (second-hand).  I figure I read them so quickly, in less than a week sometimes I’ve finished a book, spending the money on a new book is an extravagance (sorry to any authors out there, I know how much time it takes to write a book).

I mostly read chick-lit these days.  I know it’s not very ‘intelligent’ of me (once again, sorry to the authors who I read and love), and I could be reading something a little more ‘intellectual’, but I like to read and relax at the same time, and it’s very easy to read this kind of book in bed before sleeping.

I’ve also discovered, due to lack of other suitable reading material, the futuristic genre.  About what the world will be like in the future.  In some of them there’s been some kind of apocalypse, in some of them it’s just about futuristic life with new technology.  But I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed them and hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on some others.

A few months ago I tried to read a Charles Dickens classic, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.  I’m sure I read it in high-school, and probably did some kind of book review or something on it.  I don’t know how.  When I tried to read it recently, I couldn’t get past the first page. 

The style of writing in classic books like Dickens makes it really hard to read.  You have to concentrate, the sentences are long, the words and phrases are old fashioned – it was too hard.  I put it away, knowing I’ll never attempt it again.  For me, the days of classics are over.

One thing I find almost impossible, it’s reading an electronic book.  I’ve tried.  I can’t.  I need pages to turn.  Sometimes it’s necessary to flick back through the pages to remind myself of some important information about one of the characters that I missed or forgot.  I need to reach the final page, close the book, and feel that wonderful satisfaction of finishing it – while still holding it in my hands.

Do you have a love affair with reading?  I’d love to know what you’re reading right now.  Let me know your book recommendations in the comments.

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

12 thoughts on “My Love Affair with Reading”

  1. So many similarities for me too – I love books, libraries are a godsend (I’m too cheap to buy books) I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts (and her alter-ego JD Robb) and I have a guilty love of Young Adult fantasy novels. I prefer a real book over an electronic one any day – for some reason, reading on a screen always gives me a headache.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Leanne, I really miss going to the library. I used my local one right up to the time I left Australia, 12 years ago. We don’t think of things like that when we decide to move overseas, but it’s really sad living without this resource. Enjoy your library while you can – I’m afraid that one day they may disappear! 😦 Hopefully not in our lifetime, though. Thanks for sharing your reading pleasures. I’ve heard of Nora Roberts but haven’t yet come across any of her books. Might have to scrounge a bit more in the bookshops on my next trip. Nice to see you again, have a lovely weekend. 🙂

      Like

  2. This was really interesting to read! I love reading too and enjoy a good futuristic genre to mix it up every now and again. I was always reading and often got in trouble for doing so when I should have been doing something else. #mlstl

    Like

    1. Hi Debbie, haha, we have a lot in common then! I was always in books, never doing what I should have been doing. I think years of not doing homework was caused by ‘head in a book’ syndrome. 🙂 Still do it now, in fact, although it’s often housework that get’s forgotten these days! Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! 🙂

      Like

  3. I do love reading, Cheryl, and many things in your post brought up fond memories, especially the library bits. I used to get lost for hours in a good book. I rarely have that much time in a single block now, but I still sneak in a few pages at a time. One of the things I love about traveling is the chance to read uninterrupted on the airplane. I don’t mind reading a heavy (topic) book, but afterwards I mix things up with a lighter read. I will read electronic books on occasion for convenience, but I much prefer an old-fashioned printed book. Take me to a book store with a coffee shop in it, and I am in heaven!

    Like

    1. Hi Christie, I love it when my posts provoke good memories for the people who read them. It’s one of the most satisfying things about blogging. 🙂 I find reading in planes quite difficult actually, I usually just eat and sleep! There’s some great book/coffee shops around these days. And it’s especially nice to find them when you’re in a new place and looking for a bit of a relaxing time after all the walking/sightseeing/excursions you tend to do when you’re tourists. It’s so nice to know how much people love reading – even if we don’t find enough time for it these days. Thanks for visiting, nice to see you here. 🙂

      Like

  4. Hi Cheryl, I love reading and my one treat is to just take the afternoon to get lost in a good book. I love chick lit but also British Detective stories. My daughter and son-in-law have read to both their sons since birth and Ethan who is now 5 is not only an accomplished reader but loves his bedtime routine of books and a song. Books are a wonderful way to visit other worlds and although I have an e-reader now which is great for travelling, I do love the feel of a book in my hands and when we moved I made sure I kept all of my favourites. Thanks for sharing at #MSLTL and have a lovely week. x

    Like

    1. Hi Sue, It’s nice that so many people love reading! I suspect that it might be the age group. 🙂 It’s so nice to hear that young parents are instilling a love of reading in their children. You’re right about travelling to other worlds through books, they’ve been a delightful escape from reality sometimes! I also have a couple of favourites that I can’t let go of, which I’ve read more than once. Thanks for dropping by, lovely to see you. 🙂 x

      Like

  5. I read blog posts (LOL) I did enjoy reading you writing about reading books. I love to get transported away into a story, I am a bit more choosy these days. Anyway, our Elise also likes your post and it is her choice to be featured on the next Blogger’s Pit Stop. Thanks
    Kathleen

    Like

    1. Hello Kathleen! Well, I guess I forgot to say that I also read blog posts! Maybe not as many as you do, but a lot. 🙂 Yes, stories are great for getting lost in, going to other lands or other times – nothing better for escapism really. Thank you for your support of my post, I do appreciate it! Enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

      Like

  6. Cheryl I also have a love affair with reading. My childhood story is much the same as yours. I also paper pockets and used index cards to make my books look like library books. I have also gone through many different book phases. Currently I read a wide variety. I read a lot of personal development, that has been a life long passion. My favorite book in the past couple of years was Amor Towles A Gentleman in Moscow!

    Like

    1. Hi Michele, weren’t we cute with our little pretend libraries!! 🙂 Personal development books can be great, but sometimes they can be a little patronising, I find. I’m going to check out Amor Towles A Gentleman in Moscow – I’ve never heard of it. Going to look it up right now! Thanks for stopping by, nice to see you. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s